Thursday, March 21, 2013

Science is a Girl's Best Friend

Poster by Alicia Tran
I'm truly excited to share with you a brand new article for National Women's History Month, written by Amanda Wrigglesworth, a.k.a. SkeptiKhaleesi.  I first ran across Amanda's work when I saw her "Women of Science" videos on youtube, in which Amanda provides portraits of outstanding women in science that you might not know much about.  You can access all of SkeptiKhaleesi's videos on her youtube channel, but please also visit the Articles page and read Amanda's essay on the past, present and future recognition of women in science.  In her essay, Amanda discusses reasons why women have been historically overlooked in the sciences, how perceptions of women in science are changing, and what we can do to promote that change.  Whether you're a woman with a career in science or a student hoping to become a scientist, you're sure to learn something from this article.

What do you think?  What can we do today to ensure that the accomplishments of our female scientists are recognized, and even more importantly, reinforce to our younger generations that scientists have been, are, and will continue to include females?  What can we do to teach our girls that anyone, male or female, can be a scientist if she is willing to work hard to reach her goals?  I want to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below!

And don't forget to check out SkeptiKhaleesi's videos.  Here is her most recent, on Rita Levi-Montalcini.  I guarantee you'll learn something new about a very cool, brainy lady!  Thanks so much, Amanda!

Related posts:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ze Future and Jean

Hi Brainy Girls readers!  Today we're trying something a little new for the blog.  We're featuring our first guest blogger, Courtney Dowell!  I met Courtney on my way to see Miss Representation (have you seen it?  You should, if you haven't!) and was struck by the uniqueness of Courtney's personality and her interest in science.  So I asked her to write a short piece on what she's interested in and who has served as a role model for her.  This is what she had to say!

Courtney and her role model, Jean.
“Yesterday, I considered becoming a nuclear engineer. Today I want to be a chemical engineer, but last week I read an article about environmental chemical engineers and I haven’t ruled that out yet. I absolutely love physics and chemistry, and no matter where my dreams of the future go, those little fellas are there.  In the past, this hasn’t been the most female-populated field, but that’s changing.  At OSU [Oregon State University], there are photos of the chemical engineering graduating classes along every wall, and in each year’s photo, there are more blouses and more hope that we will take over the world. (Just kidding. Sort of!) 

"Someone who has enhanced and encouraged my own excitement for these subjects is my grandpa’s best friend, Jean. I adore her. She’s the reigning queen of protecting the environment (yes, I mean that as a challenge). This woman has her roof solar paneled, rides her bike everywhere, and won’t buy over-packaged products. By day, she directs bands… and everyday, she also saves the world. She inspires this fiery hope in me to save the world, too. Besides being ridiculously clever, Jean’s one of the sweetest people I know and constantly awards me magical hugs that make me feel special, too!"

Courtney is a high school senior who enjoys reading, music, math, and ice cream. Her favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird, The Physics of Superheroes, and the entire Harry Potter series.  Thanks, Courtney, for helping us honor our role models during National Women's History Month!  

Do you have a role model you'd like to tell us about?  Leave a comment below!  Or, if you are looking for some inspiration, check out FabFems, a site which features profiles of women who are successful across a variety of fields.  Tell us who inspires you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just for You - Blogs by Women in STEM Fields!

Just a quick post today to share some websites I've recently stumbled upon in my research for Brainy Girls.  Are you looking for inspiration from women in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)?  Blogs are a great resource because they provide current information, and are often written by STEM women themselves.  They offer insight and advice, a glimpse into these women's lives (sometimes both personal and professional), and information about research.  Who will you be inspired by?  Here are a few websites you might want to take a look at (in addition to this blog, and the websites found on the More Please page, of course!):

USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog - Looking for a list of brainy ladies, both current and historic?  Stop by this blog, which is featuring profiles of female science and engineering role models throughout the month of March.

Science Club for Girls Blog - One of their new projects features successful STEM women who have written letters to their younger selves.  Read their advice for tips on how to survive your teens, value yourself, and choose the path that is right for you.

Female Science Professor Blog - This blog is written by a university researcher who works in the physical sciences.  Read this blog for insight about being a science professor - what the job is like, both the ups and the downs, and the puzzlements that go along with each.

There are countless blogs like the three featured above, which I have really enjoyed reading.  If you want to see for yourself, take a look at these next two websites:

Fairer Science - This isn't a blog, but you'll definitely want to stop here for a list of women in science blog resources!  There are many links on this site, with a wide range in fields and perspectives.

Women in Science - 50 Must Read Bloggers - This is a list put together by the Phlebotomy Technician Schools.  Similar to the above link, this is a fantastic list of blogs you'll want to explore!

Wow, there really are too many blogs to list here.  But if you are interested in learning about what it's like to be in a science field from a scientist herself, I encourage you to explore, starting with the links above.  Blogs are a great way to get the inside scoop, and they tend to be more in-depth than a simple facebook post or tweet.  If you find an interesting blog that you want to share, leave a comment below!  I'd love to check it out!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quick! Name a Superhero!

And now for a little different *spin* (think Linda Carter turning into Super Woman) on National Women's History Month!

Did you ever stop to think about our American superheros?  True, there are a lot of real women who have contributed to our country's cultural, scientific, and political fabric.  But did you ever stop to think about the fictional ones, ones that may have served as role models and inspirations to young girls just as much as real people might?  I just came across a film by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan called "Wonder Women: the Untold Story of American Superheroines".  It's about the changing role of female superheros in our culture, and uses Wonder Woman as an example of someone who was initially portrayed as independent and strong, then whose image shifted to reflect the changing roles of women in our society.  When women went to work in the factories during war time, independence and strength were considered admirable traits in a woman.  But when men came home and wanted their jobs back, society told women to go home and get back to traditional interests and past-times.  Wonder Woman followed a parallel path during those times, becoming more independent again in the 1970's with the revival of the strong female and feminist movement.

But it's not just about Wonder Woman's history - it's about our history as women in this country.  Do we have strong female role models in pop culture that girls can idolize and get excited about through fantasy and imagination?  Do we have women superheroines that are more than just tight-fitting outfits who are there as eye-candy for the boys?  Do we need more of them?  What are the superhero movies and comics of today telling our girls about women? If you are a girl who reads comics and enjoys superheros, what do you want to see more of? 

The truth is, we could do better.  I'm not saying that we don't have strong, intelligent, independent kick-ass women superheros today, because they do exist.  I'm saying we need more of them!  I loved watching Lynda Carter spin around and turn into Wonder Woman in the 1970's TV show, and even though I was only five or six, I recognized a strong woman when I saw one.  I'm glad my dad let me watch that show among the others we watched - the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, and who knows what else.  Deflecting bullets with wristbands was a skill I wanted to have, and flying an invisible jet was definitely a cool way to travel.

Take a look at the movie trailer here, and if you get a chance, watch the whole documentary.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And it's International Women's Day, too!

Did you know that, tucked amongst the awesomeness that is National Women's History Month, is a day celebrating women around the world?  It's true - March 8 is International Women's Day, 2013!  The theme for International Women's Day is "The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum", which aims to draw attention to the progress made towards achieving equality for women around the world.  Let's acknowledge the accomplishments of our women and keep the momentum going for achieving women's equality everywhere!

Speaking of achievements, I've posted a new article for you: Marci's Top Ten Coolest Inventions by Women!  You can get to the list by clicking here or by simply visiting the Articles page.  Are you a budding inventor?  I'll bet everyone has some sort of idea that can better the world; it's just a matter of development and putting yourself out there and showing us what you've got!  And who knows - if you're persistent, you might make my next top ten list!  But you might have to think creatively because the cat duster has already been invented.  Darn!  Coming up with new ways to make cats good for something will just be that much more of a challenge.  Awww, just kidding.  I love cats.  All of them.  How'd we get onto cats?  I don't know but you should like cats too.  And also, visit the Brainy Girls facebook page and like it if you haven't already!  And tell your friends!

Alright, clearly it is time for bed.  Happy International Women's Day, and honestly, nurture your creativity.  It will be a valuable asset in your life!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy National Women's History Month!

Welcome to another issue of Brainy Girls!  This is a special one-month issue to celebrate National Women's History Month.  Throughout March, I hope that you're able to take some time and reflect on the awesome women who have inspired and influenced you in your life, those who have helped shape who you are and guided you along your path.  We'll be reflecting on some of those women, so keep checking back to see what we have in store for you!

Me and my mom being dorks at a Renaissance Faire.
When I think of the women who have inspired me, three women immediately come to mind.  First, my mom.  Awwww.  Yes, it's true - she's been my best friend and advocate my entire life.  While she's had her struggles, I keep watching her carry on and move forward regardless of the challenges that she faces.  We give each other strength and encouragement, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Second (and I've already posted about her), is cartoonist, painter, writer and teacher, Lynda Barry.  My mom introduced me to Lynda's work when I was about eight years old and I've been an uber-fan ever since!  You can read more about Lynda in my previous post, but she served as my creative role model and allowed me to believe that not everything has to be perfect and beautiful in order to be perfect and beautiful.  Know what I mean?  No?  Well, check out some of Lynda's body of art and you'll see. 

Me and Ms. Cone when I visited her in 1999.
Third on my list is my tenth and twelfth grade English teacher, Joan Cone.  I was new to my high school in tenth grade, and I'm not sure Ms. Cone really liked me at first (largely due to some shenanigans a couple of my guy friends carried out in class and blamed on me, of which I was truly innocent).  However, as we got to know each other throughout the school year (mostly through writing assignments and feedback), Ms. Cone instilled in me a confidence about my writing and ability to help others with their writing as well.  I'm not trying to be all braggy or anything, but Ms. Cone let me write in my own style and said I was a natural writer, words that have stuck in my head through all these years.  Additionally, as my twelfth grade AP English teacher, Ms. Cone guided me in my reading, assigning books that portrayed stories of women around the world.  I loved those stories, and hope some day that I will write one of them.  Or perhaps inspire someone else to write one!  Maybe you!

Who are your heroes?  What do you love and who introduced you to it?  Who helped you get where you are today?  I look forward to hearing about the influential women in your life, whether they are famous faces from the past or from your family today.